Sunday, January 08, 2012

Final Battle of 2011 - Tau vs Grey Knights (2000 pts)

Recently I've been tempted to bring my Tau back to life and given that I'm finding it hard to motivate myself to paint any Dark Eldar I'm happy to try anything else! Therefore I'm coming back to Tau for a bit. Matt and I are heading to Jolly Toys Outing in February so I haven't got long to get my army chosen and painted!

We had a couple of games on New Year's Eve. The first of which saw the GK demolish my 2K Dark Eldar dual webway army without breaking a sweat. I think I only killed a land raider and a couple of guys! Needless to say it was a total whitewash.

Anyway, after a quick game of Horus Heresy from Fantasy Flight (I'll be reviewing it shortly), we decided to give my Tau list a try against the same GK list. Now, ordinarily if you said Tau were going to take on GK you'd think it was a done deal, right? Well when you think about it Tau are actually great against the standard Razorspam GK list. The usual tournament list consists of tons of razorbacks, strike squads and dreads. All of which are easy work for a Tau army to deal with. They aren't particularly quick, don't have very heavily armoured vehicles and small units makes for easier torrenting.

With that in mind I actually felt confident. This is surprising because I haven't played Tau against Matt for well over a year because, quite frankly, Blood Angels are horrible for Tau. Well, at least the way Matt played them with lots of jump packs and Mephiston.

His GK list for the battle is pretty horrible too. Big squad of terminators in a land raider with a grand master, rhinos with purifiers and Coteaz, razorbacks with henchmen and the obligatory psyfleman dreads. A nasty prospect for any opponent but funnily enough I felt confident. 

Anyway, onto the battle. We'd be playing Pitched Battle and Annihilation with 2000pts each. I luckily took the first turn and deployed my army nice and spread out. Broadsides on each flank (can put them anywhere really thanks to 72" range) and hammerhead dead centre. Crisis teams dotted in between with the piranhas up front. The plasma/fusion commander and his bodyguard would be deep striking.

Matt hid his dreadnoughts behind a building and spread out his transports around his deployment zone with his land raider pretty central. Thanks to his Grand Master he was able to Outflank one Rhino full of Purifiers. Despite having Coteaz Matt failed to Seize and it was time to "bring the rain" as it were.

The broadsides targetted the land raider and the first shot of the game saw it explode thanks to lovely AP1. The rest of the army were inspired by the heavy hitters and at the end of the first turn Matt's transports were mostly smoking craters. Two of the razorbacks had exploded with both squads two of the three henchmen inside as casualties of the blast. The other razorback was immobilised but Coteaz's rhino was intact.

Still reeling from a heavy death toll in my first turn Matt responded by bringing his dreads out from cover and popping shots at hammerhead. The first failed to penetrate the sturdy front armour of the tank and the second dread was distracted by the trusty disruption fields. Coteaz and his purifiers were able to bring down one pair of crisis suits and one of the piranhas bought it but otherwise there was little damage from the Titan residents.

In turn two my commander arrived right on schedule to drop in next to the terminators and a combination of plasma and fusion firepower took 4 of the grand master's 6 strong bodyguard down. Unsurprisingly Matt charged in. Unfortunately for him they'd remain in combat with my suits until turn 5 (thanks for Shield Generators). Elsewhere the drones from the piranhas killed off the surviving henchmen cowering near the wreckage of their razorbacks. The broadsides were less successful against the dreadnoughts thanks to cover saves and the damage was starting to slow down.

In Matt's turn the outflanking purifiers arrived and smashed the broadsides in combat. The plan with Tau is to always try and lose a combat so that the victors then have to face a torrent of fire. In the following turn the purifiers took heavy casualties thanks to submunitions from the hammerhead, flamers from nearby crisis suits and a double-tap from the fire warriors who'd disembarked nearby.

Coteaz's squad failed to blow up a devilfish with their psycannons but had more success on the charge. Unfortunately the squad who were forced to disembark were pinned down in the face of the Space Marines. Like their brethren on the other flank the purifiers would need to survive some serious hammer though.

The dreadnoughts again survived the fire put down on them but another razorback was wrecked forcing the henchmen out in the open. The three remaining purifiers who'd Outflanked charged some firewarriors easily finishing them off. Coteaz split off from his squad to engage the broadsides and the purifiers went after another devilfish. Coteaz narrowly managed to beat the broadsides in combat and caught them in a Sweeping Advance. The purifiers brought down another devilfish but again left the fire warriors standing. The tau responded and killed all but a single purifier. Coteaz took a fusion gun to the face too.

The sole remaining purifier managed to kill an entire squad of fire warriors on his own before he too was finished by a fusion gun shot from a nearby piranha. At this point the grand master, who found himself very lonely after his terminators had been killed by the suits (before they too died), was heading over towards my lines and I was lucky that Matt failed his invulnerable save and he was vapourised by a trusty fusion gun!

This roughly brought us to turn 5. I had a very strong chance of tabling Matt as he only had a rhino, 2 dreads and a trio of henchmen still around. I made the mistake of charging the henchmen with some gun drones thinking I'd kill a couple and make the rest run. Sadly in a monumental fail of a combat, neither side managed to do any damage to the other and we stayed locked until the end of turn 7. The dreadnoughts kept on passing cover saves meaning I could only immobilise them. Matt still couldn't shift the hammerhead and the game ended.

I was pretty confident that I'd taken victory but I knew it would be a close thing as my list has A LOT of killpoints. When we totalled things up I'd scored 12 and Matt just beat me with 13. VPs told a different story with me scoring 1,813 to Matt's 1,496. By no means a convincing margin but not minor either.

Conclusion
I have to say it was one of the best games of 40K in a long time. The seeming underdog coming very close to toppling the current "army to beat". It came right down to the wire and if a couple of things had gone differently I would've won. Now, I normally look at these games and think "what could I have done better?" but, to be honest, I don't think there was very much I did wrong. I played the game pretty well and there were only a couple of minor mistakes. That's not to say that luck didn't play a big part in it though. Matt failed some crucial invulnerable saves and I passed a lot of cover saves on my vehicles.

There were a couple of crucial mistakes I made though. The first was that I should've never engaged the henchmen in combat. Instead I should've kept popping out shooting them and hiding again. I'd have only needed to kill one of them to force a leadership test and they were pretty close to the edge. The second thing I did wrong was that I sometimes wasted units. I didn't want to rely on killing things the first time I fired so I tended to line up a shooting gallery. This worked well against the two large purifier units but against single targets like the grand master and Coteaz I ended up with units that couldn't fire because there were no targets in range once the single model was killed. This firepower could've finished off other units and won me the game.

I think the reason I was able to play the game well was that Tau aren't exactly a complex army. There are very few special rules to worry about. The difficulty is deciding what to fire at when. With my list in particular there's a lot of redundancy so I don't have to rely on one unit to do the job. I think the crucial thing with Tau is that they fold in combat. You have to use this to your advantage. By carefully placing units so that no multi-charge is possible and applying wounds correctly you can ensure that your enemy can only kill one unit a turn and then find itself in the open in your turn. Not always that simple but that's the principle!

Well the point of the two games was to determine which army I should be taking to Jolly Toys in Feb. I still think my Dark Eldar need a lot of work both tactically and from a hobby point of view so.... I'm taking Tau! I'll keep you updated on my progress of painting them up and testing them out as we come up to the tournament and then obviously I'll be reporting on my efforts after the event itself.

(Apologies for the lack of pictures but I was using all my concentration on actually fighting the battle for a change!)

2 comments:

  1. Great to see (hear?!) the Tau getting an outing. GK are a dirty list and it's nice to see the 'uncombat' Tau do well. Often with 40k, everything is so 'sissors, paper, stone' that I lose the will. Tau are clearly a good anathema to GK. Refreshing.

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  2. that was a great read cheers i have been inspired to collect tau again love the shootiness of them mate and sounds like a great game you had !

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